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WFP Sees No Food Crisis Yet on Bigger Stocks, Slower Growth

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The world has avoided a food crisis so far because international rice and grain stocks are higher than in 2008 and global economic growth is slower, the United Nations’ food-relief agency said.

Rice prices in Asia are relatively stable, and there hasn’t been any restriction of exports or panic buying so far, the Rome-based World Food Programme wrote in a statement on its website today.

Wheat prices have jumped 23 percent in the past 12 months and corn rose 7.7 percent on concern drought in the U.S. and Russia will curb grain supplies. Thai rice prices fell about 8 percent amid an outlook for higher production. Rising food costs triggered more than 60 riots worldwide from 2007 to 2009, according to the U.S. State Department.

“Although we need to be prepared for a possibility of a repeat of 2007-08, as yet this is not a food crisis,” the WFP wrote. “In contrast to 2008, global economic growth is presently weak, so demand is not pushing prices further upwards.”

Countries are better prepared for high food prices after establishing or improving social safety nets such as school meals, according to the UN agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter in London at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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